Atletico Madrid Preview
By Nic Evans
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Gil has brought in nine players as los rojiblancos prepare for their return to the top-flight following a two year hiatus in the Segunda.
Although Atletico cannot win the Champions League to cap their anniversary, getting back amongst the big clubs in Spain will be enough for fans at Vicente Calderon, with a European place the benchmark for coach Luis Aragones.
With so much upheaval in the off-season, Aragones will have to be at his best to ensure that the nine new faces gel into the squad that seemed to have won La Segunda at a canter last term, only to have a few hiccups on the run-in.
German Burgos remains a good club goalkeeper but questions remain following some decidedly indifferent performances for Argentina. The arrival of Esteban from Real Oviedo adds to the competition for the number one jersey yet this would seem to be Atletico's weakest link.
Fabricio Coloccini will hope to build upon his first impressive season in Spain with Alaves and his presence in the centre of the Atletico defence gives cause for hope for fans of the club that the backline could hold out against some of the more inventive forward lines.
Along with Alaves, the arrival of Sergi Barjuan gives Atletico a veteran presence at the back who had previously played for Barcelona and undoubtably that duo of he and Abelardo will be looking to prove themselves.
The midfield looks strong with Demetrio Albertini and Emerson adding a touch of class and steel, allowing the likes of Dani and Jovan Stankovic to pull the strings.
It is with the forwards that Aragones enjoys an embarrassment of riches and probably where his tactical nous will be allowed to flourish the most.
18-year-old Fernando Torres is a Spanish star of the future and he will do well to learn from Javi Moreno, who returns from an unhappy year long sojourn in Milan. The duo are backed up by Jose Mari (another Milan reject) and Luis Garcia, with Uruguayan Fernando Correa also available.
A top six finish would be an impressive return and Atletico certainly have the firepower to ensure this, although whether they have the strength in depth as other sides around them remains to be seen.
Planetfootball Prediction: 5th
Last season: 1st in Segunda
Star Man: Demetrio Albertini
One to Watch: Fernando Torres
Ins: Coloccini (Milan), Jose Mari (Milan), Albertini (Milan), Emerson (Deportivo), Sergi (Barcelona), Pinola (Chacarita), Luis Garcia (Barcelona), Esteban (Oviedo) and Jorge (Las Palmas).
Outs: Antonio Lopez (Osasuna), Jesus (Deportivo), Toni (Elche), Diego Alonso (Valencia), Luque (Espanyol), Cubillo (Recreativo), Juninho (Middlesbrough), Panuovic (Tenerife), Hernandez (retired).